If only we had an oversized cartoon mallet to bash our heads in and forget the memory of watching this movie.
Over the weekend, Warner Bros released their new film, “Tom and Jerry”. The feature, directed by “Taxi” and “Fantastic Four” helmer, Tim Story, is an updated take on the classic MGM production and features a largely comedic cast with the likes of Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Rob Delaney, Colin Jost, and Ken Jeong. Akin to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Space Jam”, “Tom and Jerry” is an animated/live-action hybrid, mixing the cartoonish aspects of its title characters in a grounded world populated by humans.
So, is “Tom and Jerry” a meow-derful piece of art or would we give it a rat of a rating? Oo boy, let’ssss see (devilish chuckles commence*).
Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a down-on-luck but cunning lass who cons her way to a job at an established hotel just before a high-profile wedding takes place at the venue. It soon comes to the hotel’s knowledge that a certain mouse had taken up residence in the building. In order to solve their sole-rodent infestation, Kayla enlists the aid of Jerry’s nemesis to take on the job of exterminating the problem. And as such, the shenanigans commence.
We guess you’re familiar with the game as the famous cat and mouse are one of the most popular animated characters to grace the small screen. Unlike the animated shorts, they’re in a different environment for this movie. To be precise, they are in an open-world, not just confined to the walls of a house or a friendly neighbourhood. They’ve jumped right on the ferry to New York, the city where all CG animated/live-action hybrids go to. (Shrugs*)
In this world where all animals are animated save for the humans, Jerry’s in search of a comfy new home to settle down in. After looking at multiple locations he eventually finds the sweet spot at the Royal Gate Hotel. Tom, on the other hand, has a dream of making it big as a soul artist/pianist. He intends to set up his stage with his trusty keyboard by his side. Nevertheless, Jerry, the mischievous creature he is, is determined to foil the cat’s fantasy, showing up at just the right moments to wreak havoc.
Indeed, “Tom and Jerry” features the antics you generally associate with the pair, the slapstick and cartoon violence that Tom often finds himself at the receiving end of. These come on display in several scenes throughout the first two acts. One of them had Tom attempting to enter the hotel room where Jerry was having the time of his life. The traditional electrocutions/falling from heights flat onto the ground/crimped appendages are all utilised to good effect as it was very much in the vein of how the shorts did it. A reference to Tim Burton’s Batman also gave more value to the sequence, providing a much-needed shout-out moment to relish. One moment to shine just because… the majority of the content here looked like it came out from the deepest crevices of the sewer where even the Ninja Turtles would be wary of.
Needless to say, “Tom and Jerry” is at its best when the narrative is actually focusing on Big T and Lil’ J goofin’ around. Alas, for much of the film, the title characters aren’t the ones pulling their weight. Rather, this film commits the crime of spotlighting the humans in an overly long-drawn-out movie that could have very well been compressed into a half-hour slot. Besides, the 100-minute runtime is chock full of foolish comedy that had us staring blankly at our screens, channelling our inner Kazuhira Millers, reflecting as to why we were still there, just to suffer… (heavy sigh*).
We’re not suggesting that Tim Story and co. were obligated to craft some profound, mind-blowing Nolan twist or a dramatic Tom-sacrifices-himself-for-the-good-of-all-mankind plot (that doesn’t happen anyway, apologies for the spoiler). Not every motion picture has to do that. Besides, being corny is not a sin. There are tons of films with a cheesy premise that provide the viewers with great value of entertainment. With that being said, man, the amount of s*** this movie heaped on its audience overstayed its welcome till it wasn’t amusing anymore. First and foremost, the film’s primary job, which was to entertain viewers, failed miserably.
IT WAS JUST SO BLAND!
Most of the film’s failings can be attributed to the writing. Truly, the plot just lumbers along, nibbling at little pieces of cheese, with nothing substantial to even worry about right until we get to the shoddily fabricated climax. Furthermore, its tendency to create jokes that aren’t remotely funny had us holding our craniums in disbelief the entire time. Said jests had this flawed and repetitive quality to them which the film just wouldn’t let up. If a dead horse had gone to heaven, the writers simply thought that it was best to go up there, grapple for the stallion’s soul, bring it back down to Earth, only to bat it to the stars once again.
Despite the focus on its human characters, we aren’t given much to actually care about. Chloë Moretz’s Kayla might be the exception to this blemish but still lacks the necessary depth for the main character by its resolution. The wedding of the Instafamous couple played by Colin Jost and Pallavi Sharda is the main issue or conflict for this film. Everything is focused around that event so much that even the couple come out looking as if they were made from cookie moulds.
On the other hand, we have Rob Delaney and Michael Pena, playing the bigwigs of the hotel, but again, we don’t really get to understand what they are doing most of the time. Hell, at one point during the film, Peña’s character has to stoop down just to pick up dog poop in the middle of heavy traffic. It’s not the most significant scene but it’s a perfect allegory to summarise this film as we, the audience, are stuck with this mediocre a** of a movie, picking up the produce from that hole as we go along.
O’ course, what do you call a Tom and Jerry movie that isn’t exactly about the famous pair? That’s right. A load of dog****. It follows precisely in the footsteps of “The Smurfs”, another nostalgia animated/live-action pairing that wasn’t that great but this… Oh this, manages to scrape into the very depths of the Netherworld.
To be frank, we wanted to give “Tom and Jerry” the benefit of the doubt despite our negative outlook from the get-go, especially with regard to the trailers. Nevertheless, whatever marketing that was handed to us, it was precisely that: a dumbfounding and lifeless shell of nostalgia to ruin our day with unfunny characters and a tacked-on storyline. There is certainly no reason for the movie to be this long, or if we were to go further, to exist at all. Zilch. Nil. Nada.
The only thing left to ask is: Why?
“Tom and Jerry” is now streaming on HBOMax.
"Tom and Jerry" Review
"Tom and Jerry" did not need to exist as a feature film in 2021. There, we said it.